Green Cleaning for Way Less (of Everything)

9 09 2008

First of all, a shout-out goes to Ecollo for linking to my post on small habits with big consequences. It’s my first “official” link, and I’m stoked!

Now, to the topic at hand. Much as I love them, all of the green and supposedly-green cleaning products introduced or made popular recently can’t compare in economy to those made with multi-purpose household ingredients. Although I don’t clean as much as I should, I have for some years taken notice of the easily available materials that far surpass purchased products in simple, wholesome effectiveness. Despite the claims of all green cleaners, the simpler the product, the fewer the possibilities for allergic reactions and other harmful consequences from the ingredients. Natural, homemade cleaners have the potential to be better for indoor air quality and the health of our bodies and planet, if we do a little research first.

The heavyweight champion for general cleaning is white vinegar. It can be bought on the cheap, diluted, and used in countless ways (though some have tried to count them). Click here to go to Ideal Bite‘s great post on the subject. Also, Heifer International‘s World Ark magazine (September/October 2008) recently featured this tidbit on vinegar’s power as an antibacterial alternative:

A Simple Solution for Clean Produce

Those pricey bottles of produce wash aren’t the only way to make sure your fruits and veggies are bacteria-free. Good, old-fashioned white vinegar kills 98 percent of bacteria [emphasis mine], according to researchers at Cooks Illustrated and the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University. Simply mix one part vinegar to three parts water. Keep the solution in a spray bottle and use on smooth-skinned produce. Coat thoroughly–five or six squirts should do it–then rinse under cold water.

Be advised that some household cleaning standbys, like ammonia and chlorine bleach, may be traditional but not most desirable; gentler products are available, such as baking soda, tea tree oil, lemon juice and more. EarthEasy‘s page has good starter information on safe and natural cleaning materials and formulas for specific jobs. As always, the web is an abundant resource, but use caution when following advice, and never mix products containing ammonia and bleach.

Finally, many books have been written for those on the quest for a cleaner, greener home; a classic is Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond. If you have any must-use formulas, feel free to share!

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3 responses

12 09 2008
Mister Moone

Colleen,

My wife and I just began using both the dish and laundry detergents produced by Seveth Generation – I must say, these plant based detergents seem to OUT PERFORM Dawn and Tide – and we will probably continue to use these instead. In some instances it seems (to me) the dish detergent removed greese faster than Dawn! We began this change because we were seeking non-scented and hypo allergenic products.

12 09 2008
Colleen

Seventh Generation has laundry detergent now? Great news!

21 10 2008
Ellen

For general cleaning I like half water, half white vinegar, and a dash of Dr Bronner’s tea tree soap.

For really nasty sticky stains (like road tar– my husband picks it up on his shoes on his postal round in the summer)– Goo Gone cleaners are really great and they are citrus oil-based. They get anything off any surface without damage.

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